Big Lots has restocked DVDs…

 

 

   Big Lots has restocked their $3 MGM/ Warners close-outs. It doesn’t appear that there’s anything new, but if you missed the first go-around then stock up as you’ll (maybe) not get another chance. I receive a catalog from Nina’s Discount Oldies (http://www.oldies.com) monthly and they have a bunch of these titles and (literally) hundreds more for $6.98. They also carry Alpha Video (a Public Domain video provider; mostly real old titles and B&W serials) which list at 5 for $25 and some that are 3 for $10 as well as companies unloading there soon-to-be out of Print (OOP) stock. For example, they have the 4 DVD Set of the ‘80’s television showThe Hammer House of Horrorfor under $20 (which retails at $70) which makes it a really good deal…

 

   A suggestion- if you have an FYE in your neighborhood, they take used DVD and CDs for credit- you may want to buy some of these discounted titles and cash ‘em in for store credit and buy something you really want. Just a thought…

 

 

 

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Cell Block Girls

 

 

  

 

   (Made as Thunder Alley in 1974- also popped up on video and drive-ins briefly as Convict Women, Convict Women and Swamp Fever). Our friends at East West DVD (http://www.eastwestdvd.com ) put this one out and I found it at a local WalMart for a buck. The cover hooked me; not because of it’s weak layout, but its promise of “Hot Women BEHIND BARS!” and the stars Robert Shaw (‘Quint’ from Jaws); Ted Cassidy (Lurch from the TV show The Addams Family), and Mickey Rooney (from those pretty bad Judy Garland movies of the 40’s- and his eight (!) marriages) was too big a promise to resist. Yeah, there’s a sucker born every minute…

 

   Just as a crime lord (Cassidy– obviously the only one in this having any sort of fun with his part) and his henchman are making their way across Florida, four women convicts have escaped (including Carol Locatell, who still acts and has been in things like Friday the 13th– A New Beginning and ER; DeeDee Bradley– who became a Hollywood Casting Director for television;  and Anya Ormsby– who was in Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things and has acted using the pseudonym ‘Onya Mark’ (HAHAHA! Get it? ON YOUR MARK??). Well, they cross paths and it ends up being a fight as to who is going to survive (and who can avoid the cops chasing the girls)?…

 

 

 

 

 

   I guess I should have known that all was not what I had hoped for when I opened the package- normally East West DVDs have silk-screened covers; what I ended up getting was a simple shiny disc with a white rectangular label that says in simple font “CELLBLOCK GIRLS”. So then I popped the disc in the player and I get the “menu” page that you see above. When I use to own a DVD burner/player, it was a Panasonic that created menus like above- giving you a date and time stamp of what you recorder. This disc didn’t even Autoplay- you had to select the recording; my guess is that either is the Company’s Master or a test pressing- either way, this is the first time I ever got something like this from a retail outlet. Now, if this were the only problem- well then, OK- I can live with that. But the fun continues…

 

   ROBERT SHAW ISN’T IN THIS! Where they thought that the Academy Award- nominated actor appeared in this drek I couldn’t tell you. The only one who looks somewhat like him is the Director Chris Robinson (who’s most famous for being in the cult baddie Stanley), who also appears in this as the only decent guy in the whole flick. If they wanted to boost there fake list of stars, they could have added Oliver Reed, who one of the bad guys looks like. As for Mickey Rooney, 22 minutes in you get a bare-chested and bubble-gutted Mickey as the “Gas Station Attendant”, scratchin’ and spittin’ and unspooling pearls of wisdom like “Yeah- whadda ya want?” and “Nature’s my only enemy- I drank too much beer last night” and helps the girls escape (he’s briefly kidnapped) from the cops in his little flat boat down the river, only to be forced out into the water and ‘threatened’ by stock footage of a gator and then is abandoned, splashing around in the water like an idiot. He must have been REEEaaallll hard-up to take this gig- it’s the worst thing that I have ever seen him in (and I’ve seen Skidoo and Platinum High School!)…

 

   No nudity but some violence (gunplay, cat fights and strangling) and TV language. It’s a full frame print taken from a VHS dupe- I have a feeling that it’s as good as it’s gonna look, as no one would want to release a legitimate copy of this sleazy snorefest. 92 minutes of tedium and low-rent swamp drama- I’d advise to take a pass on this one.

 

 

   Cell Block Girls– 1-1/2* out of 5

 

 

Sleepaway Camp

 

 

 

   I haven’t even written it, but this is going to be my favorite review yet. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Sleepaway Camp (1983) from its TV showings or various video releases, the story goes like this- in an after-credits sequence, a boating accident kills a father and a little boy, leaving the daughter as the lone survivor. Shipped off to live with her Aunt, the painfully-shy little girl Angela is sent to Camp Arawak with her cousin Ricky. And that’s when the killings start happening- by decapitation, archery impalement, pillow and hair accessories (among others). The kids are scared; the counselors don’t know what to do, and who is that wielding that ax?…

 

 

   This movie was a pretty big deal when it was released and made some nice money through the years as well as gained a cult-y reputation. It spawned two sequels which were made back-to-back by a different cast and crew than the first (Sleepaway Camp II: Unhappy Campers & Sleepaway Camp III: Teenage Wasteland); an aborted third sequel (Sleepaway IV: The Survivor) that only has a 20 minute workprint left after being abandoned; and a long-time-coming completed third sequel (Return to Sleepaway Camp) which will be released straight to DVD in October 2008 (IMDB also has an announced ANOTHER sequel- Sleepaway Camp Reunion for 2010- but there seems to be some disagreement if that is an actual movie being targeted for Production). The Director left the film biz to become a lawyer (only to go back to Directing for the 3rd sequel). The fan base is so big that there is, in my opinion, two of the most impressive web sites ever created for a movie that cost around $300,000 to make (http://www.sleepawaycampmovies.com/ & http://www.sleepawaycampfilms.com/ ). All this based on, let’s be honest here, a pretty weakly-made flick with (mostly) poor acting, a dredge-like pace, and an unoriginal premise even at the time of its release…

 

 

   What DOES it have then? Well, it has a damned-creepy atmosphere- something comes off the screen that is almost palpable. The SFX (by Ed French; who’s done a ton of these kinds of movies) are simple but effective. A few of the actors have a screen presence, if not exactly acting chops- specifically Angela (Felissa Rose– a role that gets, uh, more difficult as it goes along) and Aunt Martha (played by Desiree Gould– who has the most bizarre chirpy cadence to her voice; the actress HAS to be a real-life nut-case). And, most famously, the freak-out ending that comes from left field. I don’t want to throw out any spoilers for those who don’t know (or WANT to know!), so I’ll do something a little cute here right now- just highlight the line right after the asterisks below:

 

 

   **The chick is a DUDE!!

 

 

   This is a budget DVD review blog, and that’s what I have- this time by the folks at Canada’s Legacy Entertainment, Inc. (SURPRISE! Web Site is “Under Construction”). The whole series of movies have been released legitimately a few different times; on VHS from Video Treasures and a great boxed set from Anchor Bay (with the special packaging and “lost” 4th disc only available at Best Buy– OOP and I proudly own) with a bunch on nifty special features. And what does the Legacy release bring to the table? A HORRIBLE full-frame VHS dupe that is so dark that it almost ruins the shock ending (it doesn’t appear to be the Video Treasures’ tape release as that was edited; this seems to appear fairly complete compared to the AB DVD version- it could very well be a copy of a taped-off-of-the-air copy). The most boring menu on a DVD I have yet to review. Box art that is home-made and cheap (and also kinda gives away something that it shouldn’t). They even drop the ball on the TRAILER- instead of a promised movie clip instead you get a scroll of the other titles available from Legacy (*yawn*). There is no way that this is licensed product, though it’s available at places like FYE and (where I picked this up) D.D.’s Fashions- a low-rent version of Ross clothes, but not only that, but Legacy released ALL THREE movies in brazen bootleg form; all with bad art and even worse transfers. If you DO insist on getting this weak version of the movie to save a few bucks, then at least look for Legacy’s “Night of Horrors Volume 1” which includes this and Lucio Fulci’s House by the Cemetery also in badly-duped tape copy on a flipper DVD. It’s rated “R” for killings, nudity, etc…

 

 

   The upshot is- if you don’t already own it and want to fill out your collection (and can find it cheap- I paid $1.99 for this copy) then go ahead and get it. Then watch it and see if you like it- if you do then pick up the REAL release of this; and if you DIDN’T like it…uh, well… there’s always eBay…

 

 

   Sleepaway Camp– 2-1/2* out of 5

 

   Legacy’s quality- 1* out of 5